Bandra's Steps Cafe: Owner Parth Lakhani spills the beans about their speciality coffee & more

Bandra's Steps Cafe: Owner Parth Lakhani spills the beans about their speciality coffee & more

"...we try to be as true to the product as we can."

Founded by a group of friends with diverse backgrounds but a shared love for great experiences, Bandra's Steps Cafe is an embodiment of their collective vision. Inspired by the desire to create a space that resonates with the ethos of being loud about the environment, Bandra's Steps blends the cosy ambiance of a café with the greenery of a nursery.

The team's commitment to sustainability is evident in every aspect, from the menu offerings to the choice of location. In conversation with Knocksense, owner Parth Lakhani shared about the inception of Steps Cafe, and what we can expect in the coming times! Read further to know it all.

"...we try to be as true to the product as we can."

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind Steps?

"So the inspiration was -- we all friends got together and one of them is into experiences, one of us into production design and we are all about being loud about the place and hence we came up with this quaint cafe with a nursery and trying to be as sustainable as we can", shares Parth.

When did the space start?

Parth states, "We started in November of 2022 and there has been no looking back since then."

Three words that come to your mind when we say Steps Cafe?

"Specialty coffee, great food and the 150-year-old tamarind tree going through the building, so peace", smiles Parth.

Three menu recommendations?

"We have a very limited menu, so everything that we've put on there has been tested and is the best", tells Parth. He adds on, "but then, personally, I would go for a V60 Pour Over and our sourdough bread sandwiches are to die for."

Considering Bandra's thriving cafes, how does Steps pull in customers?

Parth states, "Steps mainly pulls in customers for its great coffee. In the age of commercialisation, you know, where people are looking to scale, we try to be as true to the product as we can. And our location matters a lot, it's super peaceful, there's a tree that goes to the building. So that's really nice."

What factors did you consider when choosing the cafe's location?

Parth tells us, "So the factors we considered was the 150-year-old tamarind tree that adds to the vibe of the cafe, and the peaceful and the green area around steps." Adding on, he shares, "So, if someone can come into the by lanes, they're gonna feel they're not in Bombay and that's what everyone's praying for right now while staying in Bombay."

Why particularly Bandra?

"So, what I'm trying to say is people already know about coffee, so, you don't have to create a market for specialty coffee here. And that's the reason Bandra." Parth explains, "So if someone comes in, they know what they're looking for, and they get that with the best of quality and beans from the farms of Chikkamagaluru."

Could you tell us about the beans that you just mentioned?

Parth explains, "So the beans come from a single estate farm in Chikmagalur down south. They go to Bangalore for roasting to get the perfect roast. That's how we go about it."

What are the major customer preferences here in Bandra?

Parth shares, "The ones with the sweet tooth, they go for our Iced Mocha or the Classic Cold Coffee, which is our version of a Vietnamese with a double shot espresso, condensed milk and milk. And someone with a stronger preference would go for a cold brew, brewed for 16 hours in our tank right at the cafe."

Since Bandra is known for health-conscious people, how does Steps cater to this particular segment?

Parth tells us, "First thing we've done is that all the food that we sell are good to share, right? So that way the calories are counted. Second thing we do is we try to provide healthy options but of course we don't claim to be the healthiest." Also", he adds, "We choose the best of sourdough breads. We offer vegan menu which are low on calories and still high on protein."

Have you seen any specific market trend with regard to the diners here?

Parth explains, "Market trend would be that we have lots of coffee drinkers. So they prefer coming in earlier, leaving earlier. And we've got people who come work from here because of the peace the cafe offers. And, we've got wi-fi and great coffee, so that's the best. So the trend that we've noticed is that we try and offer the best quality of coffee and we also try to educate the customers. So people can spend easily two to three hours and, you know, get some time out from their busy lives in the city."

The way you had envisioned steps, is it the same or is there any change?

Parth points out, "Oh, the way we had envisioned steps was just a very small passion project, non-commercial. So that's why we're still not on Zomato or Swiggy. And we just want people to come here, have the best time and we want them to feel at home. So we encourage customers to complain or if they don't like something, let us know so we can make it up to them and give them the best experience. And I'm myself around, I try to talk to 100% of the customers to make sure that they don't go disappointed."

Who would you say that is your target audience?

Parth asserts, "My target audience would be from a three-year-old baby to a 60-year-old. Or a person who just wants to take a break from the city's chaos and sit amongst the last few trees we have left in the city."

According to you, what are the ingredients to keep customers coming back for more?

"So the ingredients to keep customers coming back for more would be the highest quality of coffee and food that we offer", states Parth. He adds further, "Second would be to make them feel at home, and customer connection. So that makes them very comfortable and that's led to a lot of repeat customers who come here every day religiously, and have their cup of coffee, interact with us, tell us about their lives, making this a great networking place as well."

Are there any plans for future expansions?

"Future expansion, yes", shares Parth. "So we are getting into selling of beans, we grind them based on the equipment you have at home. The second would be we are getting into pop-ups and festivals. So we take our coffee there to the people where they can enjoy the music and our coffee and food. And we are looking at expanding into training but not quite sure yet."

Parth adds, "So for us at Steps Cafe, the whole idea is to get people to actually acknowledge what coffee is and how the process is. And for me, especially for us at Steps Cafe, is that we want to educate people on what speciality coffee really means."

If you had to choose another location for Steps, what would it be and why?

Parth exclaims, "Probably like Goa, where I can find another place like Steps, equally peaceful and green. So, somewhere in Asagao in Goa, you know."

Anything else that you're coming up with, in terms of the menu?

Parth mentions, "So we try redoing a menu every six months and we come up with new things based on the current trends. And of course our best sellers stay on the menu, but we do try to innovate and come up with new things every now and then. And we've just updated the menu recently, two months ago. So sticking to this for now."

What makes your coffee stand out?

"It's the highest quality, lots of iterations before serving it to the customer and getting open feedback from the customer on how they like it. And if there's anything that we'd like to do for them, we try and do it", states Parth.

Any market insights related to the coffee industry, that you'd like to share?

"So after the cafe, I myself have become a fan of pour overs and french presses, aero presses. So, I see lots of consumers buying the equipment for themselves for home and then getting the beans from us. So that's an interesting trend that people are appreciating coffee for what it is", adds Parth.

Any exclusive sneak peek that you'd like to give us?

Parth discloses, "We're planning on coming up with a coffee school - a barista training school, not just for people who want to become baristas, but also coffee enthusiasts and make them understand how specialty coffee is different from a premium coffee or a regular coffee, why it is the way it is, where it comes from, how it's roasted, the different kinds of roasts and what is the difference between Indian coffees and the coffees that are found in Brazil and Africa. So, fingers crossed for that one."

A blend of passion, sustainability and coffee!

Starting from humble beginnings in November 2022, Steps Cafe has carved a niche for itself in Bandra. Inspired by a shared passion for experiences and sustainability, its founders have created a haven where speciality coffee, great food, and the serenity of nature converge.

As Steps Cafe continues to evolve, its dedication to sustainability, community, and exceptional coffee remains unwavering. With plans for future expansions and a commitment to educate coffee lovers, Steps Cafe is poised to leave a lasting mark.

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